Chapter VIII The Armed Forces and the People

China's national defense is the people's national defense, and China's armed forces belong to the people. It is an important responsibility and duty of the Chinese armed forces to take part in national construction and exert themselves in the service of the people. Strengthening unity between the PLA and the government and between the PLA and the people is an important political foundation for relying on the people to build national defense and the PLA.

Supporting the PLA and Giving Preferential Treatment to Families of Servicemen and Martyrs, and Supporting the Government and Cherishing the People

Maintaining unity between the military and the people and between the PLA and the government, supporting the PLA and giving preferential treatment to families of servicemen and martyrs, and supporting the government and cherishing the people: these are the fundamental principles consistently adhered to in the building of national defense and the PLA. Supporting the PLA and giving preferential treatment to families of servicemen and martyrs are activities carried out by the local people's governments at all levels, mass organizations and the masses to support the PLA and give preferential treatment to families of active-duty servicemen and revolutionary martyrs. Supporting the government and cherishing the people is the mass work carried out by the people's army focusing on support for the government and love for the people. These glorious traditions formed during the revolutionary wars demonstrated tremendous might in Chinese people's liberation cause.

Since the founding of New China, the work of supporting the PLA and giving preferential treatment to families of servicemen and martyrs has been gradually legalized and standardized. The State Council has, in succession, promulgated the Regulations on the Commendation of Revolutionary Martyrs, the Regulations on Compensation and Preferential Treatment for Servicemen and the Regulations on the Resettlement of Demobilized Conscripts. It has also formulated and issued policies and statutes on the resettlement of officers transferred to civilian work, on the employment of the accompanying spouses of officers, and on safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of servicemen and their families. The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the PLA General Political Department jointly issue circulars on New Year's Day, the Spring Festival and Army Day every year on the arrangements for the work of supporting the PLA and giving preferential treatment to families of servicemen and martyrs and supporting the government and cherishing the people. In the past ten years and more, proper arrangements have been made for more than 600,000 officers transferred to civilian work, more than 7,000,000 demobilized enlisted men, more than 50,000 disabled enlisted men and more than 900,000 spouses. In addition, more than 100,000 retired military cadres and civilian employees have been given political status and material benefits they deserve, and children of servicemen enjoy preferential policies in education. In August 2004, the State Council and the CMC promulgated the newly revised Regulations on Compensation and Preferential Treatment for Servicemen, greatly raising the compensation standards, expanding the scope and increasing the items of social preferential treatment, and further improving the compensation and preferential treatment system for servicemen, which is suited to the conditions of China.

The people's governments at all levels have incorporated the work of supporting the PLA and giving preferential treatment to families of servicemen and martyrs into their economic and social development programs, and given active support to national defense building and the PLA. They have actively helped PLA units to accomplish tasks of education and training, performing combat readiness duties, conducting scientific research and testing, and carrying out the construction of military projects, by ensuring the requisitioning of sites and providing road support and material supplies. They have encouraged regular institutions of higher learning and scientific research institutions to provide the PLA with technological and intellectual support, and established bases for such purposes to help PLA units train personnel in different fields. They have organized non-governmental sectors to help PLA grass-roots units to improve their living conditions, supplied to them food, oil, water and electricity with priority, helped build barracks and living quarters, and set up food-production bases and cultural centers, and helped nearly one million families of servicemen to overcome their living, housing and medical care difficulties. Local governments at all levels have established working mechanisms for safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of servicemen and their families, courts at the basic level have set up collegiate benches for cases involving servicemen, and judicial administrative organs in various places have set up legal assistance centers to solve and mediate in the legal problems of servicemen and their families. In the past two years or so, more than 300 cities (counties), more than 2,000 enterprises and institutions and more than 1,000 individuals have been commended by the Central Government and its relevant departments for their outstanding performance in supporting the PLA and giving preferential treatment to families of servicemen and martyrs.

Carrying forward its fine traditions, the PLA has persisted in taking it as an important part of its political work to support the government and cherish the people, and has included this in the overall plan for the building of its forces. The PLA's political organs at all levels have special departments responsible for organizing activities of supporting the government and cherishing the people, and for setting up mechanisms for coordinating the relations between PLA units and local people. The PLA consciously respects the local people's governments at all levels, and assists them in their work. It strictly complies with the policies and statutes of the state, cherishes and respects the people, and helps them overcome their difficulties. In the past decade and more, the PLA has set up nearly 40,000 points of contact for helping the poor. Owing to its help, more than 3.7 million poor people have been enabled to get rid of poverty, more than 2,800 primary and secondary schools have been built in poverty-stricken areas, and more than half a million school drop-outs have returned to class.

Under the unified leadership of the local people's governments, the PLA and the PAPF grass-roots units jointly carry out mass activities with local grass-roots organizations to build socialist spiritual civilization. Throughout the country, more than 30,000 links for joint activities have been set up for such purposes. All grass-roots units of the PLA and the PAPF take an active part in local activities aimed at building "civic virtues" cities, villages, communities and trades. They open for free to the public military history exhibition halls, and honor rooms of heroic companies, and memorial halls in honor of heroes and models. They assist in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities to develop educational, cultural and health programs. Local governments help the PLA and the PAPF train servicemen competent in both military and civilian jobs, and help grass-roots units of the PLA and the PAPF improve and enrich the cultural life in barracks.

Participating in and Supporting National Construction

The PLA and the PAPF actively participate in and support all aspects of national construction besides fulfilling their assignments of education and training. They participate in the construction of national and local infrastructure projects, support agriculture, relieve poverty through development projects, transfer scientific and technological achievements, assist in tackling technological problems and training personnel, and support the development of the public welfare undertakings in both urban and rural areas. They have also vacated part of the land for military use and barracks and camp facilities, and opened some military airfields, harbors and docks and communication lines to civilian use.

The General Staff Headquarters and the General Political Department have specified that everyone in PLA units is obliged to devote an average of not less than eight days a year to national construction. Under the condition that military needs are met, PLA units may use some of their vehicles, machines, ships, planes and other equipment to support local economic construction. Organic units of the engineering troops may take part in the construction of national or local projects. The goldmine, forest, water conservancy and electric power, and transportation forces of the PAPF take a direct part in national economic construction.

In the past two years, the PLA has assisted in the construction of more than 490 key projects at the provincial level and above, and transferred more than 500 scientific and technological achievements to civilian sectors. More than 100 military hospitals have given support to corresponding local hospitals in remote and less-developed areas. PLA technical troops specializing in mapping, meteorology, water supply and so on have provided services in geographic survey, weather forecasts, water source exploration and other fields. Military institutions of education and research have helped train more than 100,000 personnel urgently needed in local construction. PAPF units have taken part in the construction of more than 100 key national and provincial projects, and made significant contributions in particular to the Three Gorges Project, the West-East Electricity Project, the West-East Natural Gas Project and the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Project, as well as to geological prospecting, forest fire prevention and highway construction.

Since the founding of New China in 1949, more than 3,500,000 military cadres have been transferred to civilian work, and they have taken an active part in all aspects of national construction. Among the 1,500,000 military cadres transferred to civilian work since the beginning of the reform and opening-up, more than 540,000 have been cited as model or outstanding workers, more than 10,000 have been chosen as outstanding entrepreneurs, and more than 330,000 have become leaders at or above the county or corresponding level, many of whom have even become provincial or ministerial leaders.

Participating in Emergency Rescue and Disaster Relief Operations

Taking part in emergency rescue and disaster relief operations is an important mission the state and the people have entrusted to the PLA and PAPF. In the course of these operations, the PLA and PAPF mainly undertake the following tasks: rescuing and evacuating disaster victims and people trapped in danger, eliminating or controlling major dangers and disasters, ensuring the safety of important targets, participating in the emergency rescue and transportation of important goods, conducting rush repairs of roads and bridges, carrying out underwater operations and rescue operations under nuclear, biological and chemical conditions, controlling major epidemic diseases,providing medical aid, and assisting local people's governments in such tasks as disaster relief and post-disaster reconstruction. In normal time, the PLA and PAPF make a point of gathering information on disasters and dangers, set up a system of information exchanges with local governments, draw up rescue and relief plans, conduct rescue and relief training and exercises, and offer rescue and relief courses in military command colleges. In rescue and relief operations, PLA and PAPF troops receive orders from the joint military-civilian headquarters.

In the past two years, PLA and PAPF troops have taken part in fighting floods, typhoons, earthquakes, forest fires, epidemic diseases and other natural disasters on more than 120 occasions, and prevented economic losses totaling some RMB 10 billion. The PAPF alone put in more than 240,000 troops, rescued more than 230,000 people out of danger, and rush-transported more than 2.6 million tons of goods. In 2003, the PLA and PAPF offered all-out support to governments at all levels in the fight against SARS by sending 37,000 officers and men to help control the spread of the disease and sterilize on a large scale key places, sites and areas with a high incidence of SARS. Eighteen military hospitals provided meticulous medical treatment to 420 SARS patients. The Military Academy of Medical Science was the first to separate the SARS pathogen in China and develop a rapid-diagnosis reagent for SARS. A total of 1,383 medical personnel from different PLA units worked hard continually at the Beijing Xiaotangshan Hospital for more than 50 days to give meticulous treatment to 680 SARS sufferers.

Keeping Discipline in Relation to the Masses

The PLA's discipline in relation to the masses is the code of conduct that all officers and men must observe in their contacts with the masses of the people. Strict enforcement of discipline in relation to the masses is the guarantee for the PLA to win the support of the people.

In its early days, the PLA formulated the "Three Main Rules of Discipline" and "Eight Points for Attention," which clearly state: "Do not take a single needle or piece of thread from the masses," "Speak politely," "Pay fairly for what you buy," "Return everything you borrow," "Pay for anything you damage," "Do not hit or swear at people," "Do not damage crops," and so on. The newly issued Regulations on Routine Service of the People's Liberation Army and the Regulations on Discipline of the People's Liberation Army, along with a series of new statutes formulated by the CMC and the general departments of the PLA, stipulate that servicemen must conform to the required standards of bearing when they go out in uniform, and that they should not engage in trade or in paid services beyond their own jobs, or use their names or portraits for commercial advertising, thus enriching the content of discipline in relation to the masses.

All PLA units regard it as a constant and important task to strictly enforce discipline in relation to the masses. They conduct education in discipline in relation to the masses, inspect and supervise its observance, and strictly restrain the behavior of officers and men in social activities. The garrison headquarters of troops stationed in cities send out pickets to patrol the streets from time to time, and PLA units send out discipline inspection teams on major holidays or when their personnel go out to perform tasks. Regular visits are paid to civilian organizations in the areas where PLA units are stationed, and when breaches of discipline are found, they will be dealt with in time. The PLA units stationed in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities strictly implement the state policies concerning ethnic groups and religions, and consciously respect the religious beliefs and customs of the ethnic minorities.